Chinese people desperate to prove they are descendants of Confucius have been told that DNA tests will not be included in the current compilation of the family tree of China's first teacher of philosophy.
Kong Deyong, head of the association of compilation work for Confucius Genealogy, announced the exclusion earlier this week.
The thoughts of Confucius (551-479 BC), a philosopher, educator and founder of Confucianism in the late Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), are believed to still hold sway over Chinese society.
But the total number of the sage's descendants that are alive today is still a mystery.
"Genealogy attaches importance to a clear family tree. Every person who wants to be included in the family tree has to make it clear where on the family tree he or she belongs," Kong Deyong said.
"Although a DNA test may prove someone has blood ties with Confucius, it will fail to ascertain where the claimant is located on the family tree," Kong added.
The current compilation of Confucius Genealogy began in 1996 and is the fifth of its kind. But this time, female descendants will be included for the first time. Those people living outside China may also be included if they are able to present "solid evidence".
Some unconfirmed claimants, who cannot find their ancestors' connection to the family tree of Confucius, were hoping a DNA test would help them verify their identity.
However, Kong Deyong said, "We've never considered inclusion of DNA test results in the re-compilation of the Confucius Genealogy. Although DNA tests can prove blood ties, they are not helpful in the genealogy compilation.
Instead, experts with the Beijing Institute of Genomics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences plans to set up a Confucius-DNA database.
Xia Xueluan, a sociologist with Beijing University, firmly opposes people identifying themselves as descendants of Confucius through DNA tests.
"It is more important to carry on the positive contents of Confucian thoughts than simply proving one is descendent of the sage," Xia noted.
According to Kong Dewei, head of the Confucius Genealogy compilation office, registration of Confucius descendants has been largely completed. The new Confucius Genealogy is expected to be publicized in 2009.
The last compilation of the Genealogy was conducted between 1930 and 1937.
Kong Dewei said the newly completed registration showed there are descendants of Confucius all over China except Tibet Autonomous Region. Most of them live in Shandong, Hebei and Henan provinces as well as in northeastern China and in the Yangtze River valley.
He said, "There are also a large number of descendants living outside China. In the Republic of Korea alone, there are 1.2 million registered descendants of Confucius."